Today, we acknowledge that the digital citizen is a global citizen. Consider the explosion of the Internet into our lives. There has been a need for a definition of checks and balances that will govern this “new” world-wide technology. Enter the digital citizen. Digital citizenship is, as Karen Mossberger puts it, “representing capacity, belonging, and the potential for political and economic engagement in society in the information age.”
While it certainly is not a governing set of laws or even enforceable, digital citizenship nevertheless defines the model behaviour of today’s Global Digital Natives. So how do we make the definition clear for all? What are a few of the Global Digital Citizenship myths that we can get nipped in the bud?
Global Digital Citizenship is just another passing fad.
Not true—it’s here to stay. Actually, it’s a way of thinking and behaving in a healthful manner when real live citizens engage in activities on the Internet. The themes of Global Digital Citizenship are safety, respect, and responsibility. These can be taught to young children as soon as or before they get their first login/password. Schools are a great place to start.
Parents are also beginning the process at home, where kids are sometimes online the most. Of course, as schools get stocked with more and more technological tools, they are also an environment where good digital practice is a must.
Global Digital Citizenship is just about manners.
It’s much more than that. Take a look at the word “citizen.” Of course it’s about being safe, respectful, and responsible. But it also means taking an active part in the global society in politics, economics, and social endeavours. It’s about engaging in the Fluencies—Solution Fluency, Information Fluency, Creativity Fluency, Media Fluency, and Collaboration Fluency. It is how to be a citizen in the truest sense of the word.
This is not unlike a government or history or civics class, which teaches young students how to participate fully in civic society. We are talking about a global society where we all care about what happens on the other side of the world.
Global Digital Citizenship is just a buzzword.
Let’s face it—the Internet is here to stay, and it will continue to weave itself into the remotest areas of the world. As such, digital citizens must educate themselves in best Internet practices. Whatever you want to call it—digital responsibility or digital safety—we stand at the brink of a fascinating time.
Imagine if world communities could come together and decide how the Internet will affect us, or we will affect the Internet, and reach a harmonious conclusion beneficial for all. Global Digital Citizenship is a movement of sorts, of people working together symbiotically to define how this global society can function compassionately and constructively for the future.
Global Digital Citizenship programs are only for technologically-connected schools.
Think again! Citizenship is already being taught in the form of civics classes, history classes, and social studies classes all the way down to simple lessons on behavior at the most elementary level. What would complete the circle of these much-needed classes is a program to prepare them for their future. Even if a school may be disadvantaged or cut off from technology, it doesn’t mean those children will grow up not needing guidance on its use later on.
Remember this OLPC experiment? Children were given tablet technology without teachers and very quickly were able to figure out how to use them and, more importantly, how to alter their functionality.
As we said earlier, this is an exciting time of fluctuation and discovery. It is not to be feared, but to be met with global citizens collaborating, discussing, and creating solutions that will affect the next generation of digital natives.